Saturday, July 15, 2017

NSW loop drive Sydney - Wagga, Wagga - Snowy Mountains - South Coast

Sunrise in the Snowy Mountains. Photo by Alison Plummer©
Leaving Sydney late on Saturday afternoon, we reach Goulburn around 7pm. The city is less than an hour from Canberra, Australia's capital in the ACT, so is a popular stopover.  Goulburn's wide main street is a real mix of old and new – this was a great Victorian rural city, its historic buildings dating from the glory days of gold and becoming a major centre of the booming wool trade.

We're not starving but can do with something to eat; the Pizza Kitchen, Auburn Street, is still open and I am beside myself when I spy anchovies on the menu in the Capricciosa, thin base. It's delicious. (Anchovies seem to have disappeared from pizza toppings!)

Next day we drive via Canberra to Wagga Wagga. Here we stay at the very comfortable Best Western Plus Charles Sturt Suites & Apartments, a couple of blocks from the main street with the Roundabout Restaurant, one of the  best in town. Many eateries are closed on Mondays but our niece is working at the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital and knows we'll enjoy the Indian Tavern Tandoori, a palace of a place with reliably delicious food we remember from a previous visit - Fish Malabar, Saag Gosht.

On the way back to the Best Western we discover a quiet cafe tucked away at 10 Blake Street – we can see over the walling the enclosed courtyard of The Pot 'n' Kettle Coffee House and know this is where we'll be next morning.  We only make it for a great coffee and selections from the delicious breakfast menu which includes yummy turmeric and sage pumpkin fritters with avocado, haloumi and minted yoghurt and an avocado  brekkie with goats cheese, roast tomato, rocket and lemon; pancakes.

Enough of eating – now for the drive over the Snowy Mountains to the coast on a glorious day with intense blue skies and golden sunshine. We choose the quiet roads via Tumbarumba, Goat Ridge Road, Link Road, a switchback route with spectacular views. Breathtaking on our early autumn day. (*It's winter now and snow and ski season in the Snowy Mountains, so this is a trip to plan ahead for late spring/early summer.  Roads can be closed due to weather conditions, so check ahead.)

We join the Snowy Mountains Highway/B72, driving through undulating countryside that's quite mesmerising before dropping down to Bega (famous for its cheese) on the coast.

North now to lovely Bermagui and then Narooma for a video interview with a very special lady. No time to explore, unfortunately, and it's late to drive to Sydney so we overnight at Kiama and speed back to Sydney next day at the crack of dawn.

Choosing the route we did turned the trip into a delightful, impromptu taste of rural New South Wales. Work and travel – the best of both worlds.

Best Western Charles Sturt Suites & Apartments
Best Western Charles Sturt Suites & Apartments

Pot n' Kettle Coffee House

*The NSW ski season is officially from June until the first weekend of October. However there can be snowfalls from April to as late as November and even December, so always check road conditions in the Snowy Mountains.

Monday, February 27, 2017

O'Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith at QAG

Georgia O'Keeffe: Ram's Head, Blue Morning Glory.

O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism 
Queensland Art Gallery, 11 March - 11 June 2017 

Celebrating the iconic work of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) and pioneering Australian artists Margaret Preston (1875–1963) and Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984), the exhibition includes 90 paintings, 30 by each artist. The Georgia O’Keeffe paintings include Storm Cloud, Lake George 1923, The Black Iris 1926 and her Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory 1938 (above).

Grace Cossington Smith: Landscape At Pentecost.
Georgia O'Keeffe: Purple Hills Ghost Ranch.

Margaret Preston: Aboriginal Landscape.

Already shown in Melbourne, following the season at the Queensland Art Gallery the exhibition will tour to the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1 July to 2 October 2017.

Source: QGOMA

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Culinary Adventures in Italy's Puglia & Basilicata with Lyndey Milan, May 2018

Lyndey Milan with Alison Pike of Southern Visions Travel
Photo: Immacolata D'Amico
Sixty million olive trees (some more than 2000 years old, protected by UNESCO and tracked by satellite in case of theft), Pugliese pastas such as the local orrechiette, famous Burrata cheese, fava beans...! The list is long. Add fresh fish, cherries, figs and almonds and you still haven't reached the heart of the passion for local food that Australian food diva Lyndey Milan will introduce you to on a personalised tour behind the scenes and into the kitchens of one of Italy's best-kept secrets.

Puglia is the heel of the boot of Southern Italy, famous for its conical, whitewashed trulli houses.  Lyndey's name is synonymous with locally-grown produce and to travel with her on this journey will be an incredible experience for the lucky few. I was fortunate to enjoy Lyndey's inspiring, authentic tastes of Puglia, served here in Australia to promote the tour and using meticulously-sourced ingredients  such as Scamorza cheese and deliciously different local wines of Puglia. Based on this, I imagine that Lyndey will be hosting more than one trip to this region!

Scamorza cheese in Prosciutto.
Photo: Immacolata D'Amico

Figs with Ricotta.
Photo: Immacolata D'Amico

Wines of Puglia.
Photo: Immacolata D'Amico
May 1-7, 2018, land content from $4999.00 a person.
For full details contact Alison Pike, Southern Visions Travel

Wine info:
Masseria Li Veli

Lyndey Milan

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Inspired: Mike Nock and Laurence Pike at SIMA

Wonderful musical journey with jazz sorcerer, pianist Mike Nock and superb drummer Laurence Pike at Sydney's SIMA Sound Lounge last night. These two speak a special language together and it was inspiring to hear/see them live again. Also great to hear the incredible Sandy Evans with Alon Ilsar and his 'airsticks'. Thanks for a few hours transported away from 'the noise of the world'. Special. 

Their recent album together is Beginning And End of Knowing.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Abstraction of the World collaborative: Duddell's in Hong Kong and Biennale of Sydney

 George Tjungurrayi, ‘untitled’, 2014, Acrylic on linen, 91 x 91 cm 
Image courtesy: Utopia Art Sydney 

Duddell’s x Biennale of Sydney. Abstraction of the World. Curated by Mami Kataoka.  Duddell’s Salon and Library from 20 March to 10 July, 2017.

Leading Hong Kong cultural and social destination Duddell's has announced a collaborative exhibition presented together with the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018): Duddell’s x Biennale of Sydney. Abstraction of the World. Curated by Mami Kataoka, the Artistic Director of the Biennale’s 21st edition, the exhibition will open on 20 March at Duddell’s, and will run until 10 July, 2017.

Since ancient times, human beings have been fascinated by the structure of cosmic space and the natural phenomena of the world. Fundamental elements such as light and darkness, wind and rain, water and fire do not have fixed structures or form; therefore, they have often been depicted by different cultures and civilisations as abstract forms. Such examples can be found in East Asian belief systems and folklore, such as Taijitu, Wuxing and I Ching trigrams, as well as in various Indigenous cultures around the world. This exhibition features work by three prominent artists from the Asia Pacific region: Mit Jai Inn, George Tjungurrayi, and Haegue Yang, who through their research and repertoires, reference and explore such concepts in abstraction.

A pioneer of Thai contemporary art, Mit Jai Inn’s (b. 1960) idea of painting defies conventional boundaries, both physically and conceptually. His abstract paintings bring to mind reflections of light, the colour spectrum and the molecular structure of the universe.

George Tjungurrayi (c. 1943) creates abstract canvases derived from the distinctive painting style of the Papunya Tula Artists of the Australian Western Desert, which are often interpreted as reflections of the desert landscape. The characteristic patterns also refer to the invisible energy fields of the artist’s ancestral country and to traditional stories deeply rooted in sacred law.

Internationally renowned for her assemblages and spatial installations, Haegue Yang (b. 1971) often uses industrially manufactured materials that reference the history of modern art and allude to social, political, and personal histories. Yang’s work challenges conventional ideas of abstraction and movements within diverse art forms.

On announcing the exhibition Mami Kataoka says: “Abstraction of the World explores some of the diverse philosophies surrounding the essential elements of the universe, investigating a pursuit of meaning in abstraction that goes beyond modernist perspectives of abstract expressionism and minimal, conceptual art. It is a reflection of some of my early thinking about the 21st Biennale exhibition opening in March, 2018.”

Contributing to Hong Kong’s position as one of the world’s leading arts hubs, Duddell’s is dedicated to giving local and international contemporary artists a platform to express their creativity and practise freedom of speech through art.

“We are honoured to partner with the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018) on this project, and excited that Mami Kataoka, a globally renowned figure in the art world, will be curating our next exhibition Duddell’s x Biennale of Sydney. Abstraction of the World. Duddell’s prides itself on presenting a programme of quality art events in collaboration with leading cultural institutions since its establishment in 2013, and this March, we are delighted to present a showcase of these artists from the Asia Pacific region,” says Alan Lo, Co-Founder, Duddell’s.

The exhibition is part of the Duddell’s Art Programme which includes a calendar of shows curated by respected forces in the international and regional art community, film screenings and discussions.

Source: Press release.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Culinary cruise on Myanmar's Ayeyarwady River

Textured egg yolk trilogy.
The Strand Cruise, which recently celebrated its first year of operation on Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River, has announced plans for its first culinary themed cruise in March 2017 with Strand’s new executive chef, Christian Martena and guest chef, Sylvain Royer, Michelin starred Chef de Cuisine of the R&B Lab Company.

Chef Christian, who is responsible for the culinary offerings of both The Strand Cruise and the newly reopened and refurbished Strand Yangon, will join passengers on a four-night voyage from Bagan to Mandalay on 13th March 2017.  Since moving to Yangon in Summer 2016, Chef Christian has been travelling around Myanmar to visit suppliers and remote farming communities to immerse himself the country’s distinctive regional cuisines and source the best produce and spices to create a unique gastronomic experience.   Christian will be joined by fellow chef, Sylvain Royer, a Bangkok-based farm-to-table fanatic who is responsible for several highly acclaimed restaurants in the region, including the Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant in Bangkok.

As well as visiting ancient capitals and fascinating temples along the river, passengers can accompany Chefs Christian & Sylvain on visits to markets to discover local ingredients such as the tealeaf, which is used to make Laphet, a traditional Myanmar salad of fermented green tea, and infuse fish recipes such as Mohinga, a fish and noodle broth from the Shan region.  They will also present some of their signature dishes pared with wines each evening, teach passengers how to shank oysters and lead a fun blind food tasting contest to discover or re-discover ingredients found in Myanmar, such as lemongrass.

The Strand’s culinary themed cruise will take place as part of the ship’s scheduled four-night cruise from Bagan to Mandalay on Monday 13th March 2017 and is a value-added experience offered at no extra cost to passengers.  Rates are from $2,694 per person sharing a Deluxe Cabin based on double occupancy.  Rates include all excursions and activities on board The Strand Cruise as described in the set itinerary, three meals during full sailing days, breakfast on day of disembarkation, soft drinks & local beer, house wine during meals, port charges, English speaking guides (alternative language guides can be provided on request subject to availability) and satellite WI-FI in all cabins and public areas.

This gourmet cruise is the second in a series of themed trips operated by The Strand Cruise through 2017 and will be repeated again in September 2017.  Its first themed cruise will be a classical music cruise departing 13th February 2017 when The Strand Cruise welcomes on board eight classical musicians, including artists from the famous Opéra de Paris and Orchestre de Paris, for an intimate four-night musical cruise over St. Valentine’s Day.  Passengers will share in the experience of hearing scores from some of history’s most famous composers, including Mozart and Puccini, echoing against a backdrop of romantic sunsets, starlit night skies and a vista of thousands of pagodas.

Source: Press release

Seabourn Encore launched in Singapore

Seabourn, the ultra-luxury cruise line, formally introduced Seabourn Encore to the world at a festive evening ceremony in Singapore on Saturday (January 7).

International recording artist and world’s best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presided over the naming ceremony as Godmother of the new 600-guest ship, sending a bottle of champagne smashing against the bow in a time-honoured ship christening tradition. Guests and VIPs joined Seabourn staff at the launch festivities, with local musicians and cultural acts, including lion dancers and stilt walkers, helping to send the ship off in style.

“The launch of Seabourn Encore marks the start of a new era of ultra-luxury cruising,” Seabourn President Richard Meadows said.

“Seabourn Encore marks a major step forward in terms of growth for our company. This ship is stunningly beautiful and I know guests are going to be absolutely captivated as they step aboard and see it firsthand.”

Source: Press release